That's one way to call in sick.
Ever just wanted to call in sick, take some time off and climb the highest peak in Africa? What if your boss sees your Instagram? What if your coworkers tell on you? What if HR finds out? None of these were a problem for Mariz Doss, whose peak ambition was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. All she needed (well, besides the week off) was funding.
Mariz isn’t a professional athlete. The only climbing she had previously done was up the corporate ladder at her company, Medmark, a fully-fledged insurance brokerage firm, and Mount Moses in Sinai. Spurred by her own ambition and an itch to inflict dramatic change upon her life, she decided to set out on a journey to climb Africa's highest peak, Kilimanjaro.
“I have a mountain to climb and a peak to summit, but zero money,” she explained. It didn’t stop her, however. Driven as she is, Doss sat down and wrote her proposal for the trip, which demanded that she’d come up with $5,000, and sent it out. Her own employer was the first to respond in taking up her cause and happily gave her the time off. With that invaluable support, she felt things “getting real.” It's a rare and precious thing to work somewhere that values its employees, especially on a psychological and emotional level. For Doss, this gave her the big push she needed. Not only so, but the company fully covered her insurance for the whole trip, it being a fully-fledged insurance brokerage firm and all.
With that side of things set, all she needed was to get her body ready for the feat. “I went through intense physical training, including HIT (High Intensity Training) workouts, marathon runs and Sinai mountain hikes,” she explains. By October 25th, she was already at the foot of the fabled Kilimanjaro, with a 5,895 metre climb ahead of her.
“Those who know me closely are aware how much I love sports," tells us Doss. "People who get to know me are always amazed by the fact that I don't work professionally in the health and fitness field. They also get surprised that I work in the insurance field and that I love what I do,” she adds.
"Sometimes, as an insurance broker, I was put in a position to save lives and that’s when everything made sense and all the hard work and the long hours felt like they were paying off.”
With that passion fueling her career, Doss felt empowered to pursue her dream of conquering one of the world's most challenging mountain climbs, though her trip wasn't just recreational. “I wanted to make some noise," she says. "I wanted to make this trip for a greater cause, something bigger than me, because the dream was already bigger than myself.”
Under no illusions that her climb would be a walk in the park, Doss braved the non-stop rain and below zero temperatures with courage and conviction and came back with stories to tell and lessons to teach. She had just been through something great. Summitting Kilimanjaro, her dream, had come true for her.
She wanted to become a symbol for women to stand up to the seemingly infinite challenges they face. “I believe that to be a fully-rounded person, one must grow on different levels - physically, socially, and professionally - and in turn be able to also add value and contribute to the community.”
"Each and every one of us has a mountain, Kilimanjaro was mine," she concludes. "Be brave enough to conquer yours. If you have a dream, you've got to protect it and work hard for it. That's the one and only way to achieve it."